with permission of Patrick Tinney, Managing Partner, centroidmarketing.com, the Author of the new business book “Unlocking Yes: Sales Negotiation Lessons & Strategy”
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” -Arthur Ashe
Preparation for major a business negotiation involving million dollar contracts takes a wider swath. Not only do you need to have a great proposal in hand with creative BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) options, but you need to be prepared for a feisty battle with competitors who are trying to expand their position with your customer.
A thorough SWOT of your competitor’s position in your industry often yields great ideas for your upcoming major business negotiations. By looking at our competitor’s strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats, we will identify the gaps between our offerings and other important information that will help us gain the upper-hand and grow our share of business.
To begin, we must gather every piece of available information on our competitor through industry analysis, quarterly stock market reports, business blogs and articles as well as our competitor’s website. This sounds like a huge undertaking, but with robust search engine capabilities and crafty queries, you would be surprised what you can gather with a few stealth clicks!
There is no perfect place to start a SWOT analysis, but I prefer to know as much about our competitor’s strengths and opportunities, which are also known as “Key Leverage Points”. They will almost always base their proposals with key leverage points highlighting their unique product and service offerings in the market place. I want to know these key leverage points before I stand in front of a customer who may use my competitor’s offerings as a tool to dampen or diminish our proposal.
Our competitors key leverage points (strengths/opportunities) may include:
1) New product development
2) New technology
3) New markets
4) Strategic alliances
5) Cutting edge research
6) Innovative test results
7) Flexible packaging and delivery
8) And….great pricing
By understanding your competitors key leverage points, you will be able to adjust your proposal appropriately. With this preparation, the customer will respect the amount of time we have taken to analyse and anticipate their key needs, so they are not under pressure to make unnecessary, stressful supplier changes.
Next, I want to know all about our competitor’s weaknesses and threats, also known as “Business Implications”. By understanding my competitor’s daily worries (business implications) I can strategically weave this intelligence into our proposals.
What notable business implications (weakness/threats) are we looking for?
1) Geographical gaps
2) Technology glitches
3) Misaligned market offerings
4) Quality performance
5) Supply chain bottlenecks
6) Staffing/union problems
7) Senior management stability
8) Storage/delivery reliability and tracking
9) Problem resolution response times….to mention a few!!
When I am able to effectively bundle a 360 degree analysis of our competitors through a SWOT analysis, I am able to plan for most large customer queries during a negotiation. Our mission is to respond with quick, crisp competitor alternatives in a live bargaining setting. We follow up this action with objection handling value statements. Statements that could begin with ….
“We hear what you are saying. We have been monitoring these events in the market. We appreciate your interest and concerns. However, here is a great solution and opportunity we have developed. We look forward to sharing it with you and your team experts for seamless implementation. This is why our customers continue to call us first for creative solutions! We anticipate critical needs.”
Be smart. Continue to expand your share of your customer’s available expenditures. Power SWOT your competitors so you can focus more on needs, while producing creative, revenue winning proposals during complicated and large account business negotiations!
“Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.”- Denzel Washington
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